M-W schools chief outlines goals to boost achievement, hold spending to 1%

| 22 Feb 2012 | 01:47

    Central Valley - On the same evening the Monroe-Woodbury School Board approved a new salary schedule for its 580+ teachers, Superintendent Ed Mehrhof outlined the issues he will tackle during the 2010-11 school year. They are: Enhance student achievement. Construct a budget for the 2011-12 that will increase spending by no more than one percent without affecting core programs. The current $147 million spending plan is less than one percent more than the previous school year. Review the services for special education students. Begin a five-year review of all district facilities with an eye toward being environmentally conscience and reducing energy costs. Several board members described Mehrhof’s goals as ambitious, particularly at a time when the economy remains in turmoil and when expectations for financial help from Albany are low. Monroe-Woodbury, like all districts in the state, also faces new rules on how to teach and how to measure student achievement. As part of the Race to the Top initiative from the federal government, state education officials have only recently announced tougher measurements for standardized test scores. For instance, under the previous scoring method, 94 percent of all fifth graders at Central Valley Elementary school were proficient in English. Under the new rules, only 66 percent of those fifth-graders are. Mehrhof said he would look to increase the proficiency of students in each level by 5 percent each testing period. The school district does not have a single administrator overseeing curriculum. Carole O’Neill, the assistant superintendent for curriculum, retired last month after accepting a state incentive. That incentive requires a district to save a portion of that person’s salary. O’Neill was the only administrator to accept the offer. The superintendent said five people, including himself, would be in charge of curriculum. The others are Middle School Principal Elsie Rodriguez; Dr. Charlene A. Kelemen, principal at Sapphire Elementary; Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Brian C. Monahan; and Assistant Superintendent for Business and Management Services: Jeffrey T. White.

    There were compromises. We compromised with expanded salary schedules. The district will benefit from this forever. And we agreed to keep non-salary schedule monies frozen for three years. The district compromised by finding a little bit of money for a raise. That was the idea behind the 19 step salary schedule.” Ray Hodges, president of the Monroe-Woodbury Teacher Association